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NORTH TEXAS -6.5 unlv
Yet again, a not-exactly-neutral game here. North Texas will travel 35 miles to Dallas. UNLV will travel 1068 miles to Dallas. North Texas had the 5th best MoC at +9.7. They got more dominant once they went to a more ball controlled attack.
Going against underdogs of 3.5-10 points off two straight conference wins to a team off double-digit road win is 41-12 the last 10 years and 69-37 since 1992.
SOUTH CAROLINA +2 Wisconsin
Wisconsin will travel 1099 miles to Orlando. South Carolina 378. Folks, too many people overplay handicapping conference versus conference. But a team is 9-3 from a conference that is a cesspool of mediocrity and laying points to a 10-2 straight up team from the best conference in the country. The fact Wisconsin lost three straight and the SEC has won seven straight national titles demands we cannot ignore the gap between the schedules these teams face.
South Carolina lost to a then healthy Georgia team that at the time was a true national title contender. They have one bad loss in the middle of a three-game SEC road trip.
No team has lost a smaller percentage of its fumbles this season than Wisconsin. The Badgers have coughed the ball up 17 times and recovered it 14, an 82.4 percent rate. The next highest rate among FBS teams is UCLA (72.7 percent). That stat has luck, not skill written all over it. That makes them overvalued.
The Gamecocks defensive line boasts two future NFL draft picks in Clowney and tackle Kelcy Quarles (9.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss). This is something Wisconsin has never seen. They will shut down their running game. Cocks win outright.
CENTRAL FLORIDA +17 Baylor
UCF has the best QB nobody seems to notice (except for pro bettors, NFL scouts and the like) in Blake Bortles. Baylor put up crazy numbers against a suspect schedule, but the time off will hurt the overachieving team.
UCF ranks 12th nationally in scoring defense, allowing less than 20 points per game, despite having just two seniors on its two-deep. Some may view that as a lack of experience. Sharps view that as a unit that will improve even more with all the extra practice time.
The Knights served notice early on they were a team that should be taken seriously. They went on the road and beat Penn State in Week 3. Then they gave South Carolina everything they had in a 28-25 loss that came down to the very end. They then beat Louisville.
UNLV-North Texas UNDER 54.5
North Texas only allowing 18.1 points per game, 9th nationally.N Texas averaged 38.6 passes per game in their first games but 25.57 final seven. That is why they went under 6-of-8 to close year. There is no reason to come out of their game plan as UNLV has the No. 1 pass defense in conference
UNLV gets .9 passing yards per attempt less than their opponents normally allow but hold teams .7 below. So again, why will this be anything other than a big ground game from both teams?
UNLV defensive coordinator Bobby Hauk is a defensive backs guru and that is where his team showed the most improvement. With a full month of practice, that will continue.
Iowa-LSU OVER 49
Iowa must deal with first-time starting quarterback Anthony Jennings. He is very talented and has the element of surprise. LSU has had plenty of time to prepare with him but Iowa has minimal game film to prepare for him. Against Arkansas, Jennings led the Tigers on a game-winning 99-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 49-yard touchdown pass.
Iowa has almost every offensive player coming back and they used the time off to continue to improve that unit.
Iowa offense in 2012 essentially consisted of two ball-carriers in Mark Weisman (159 attempts) and Damon Bullock (135 attempts) and three pass-catchers in Kevonte Martin-Manley (52 receptions), Keenan Davis (47) and Fiedorowicz (45). The touches were spread around much more this season.
Four Hawkeyes have more than 60 rushes, including Jordan Canzeri, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. Seven players have 12 or more receptions, including Tevaun Smith, who led Iowa in catches during conference play with 21, and Damond Powell, a junior-college transfer who averages 24.2 yards per reception.
HARVARD -10 Boston College
BC is not only 2-9 against the spread, but also seven of the setbacks have been by double-digits. Again that is failing to cover by double-digits, not the straight up loss. So the oddsmakers are clearly behind them.
Our power ratings have them winning by 15. Harvard has covered 7-of-8 in the series. We do not normally put enormous stock in series angles, but we do when it is a rivalry of a mid-major covering against a team from a power conference. Harvard has a sell-out today and this is more of a one-way rivalry.
AIR FORCE +10 Utah State
I cannot deny that Utah State surprised us how well they played without their best player Jarred Shaw. But they rode the emotion in a tournament that each team played three games in three days, then did roll in essentially an exhibition game.
But emotion can only go so far. Now they play their first road game without Shaw and the meat of their schedule begins. We look for Utah State to survive but the loss of Shaw catches up to them as they win a close game.
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